May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

join with the aacr to find better ways to prevent and treat bladder cancer

Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

Bladder cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the United States. In 2024, approximately 83,190 people will receive a diagnosis of bladder cancer, and some 16,840 people are expected to die from it, according to estimates by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Bladder cancer is most likely to affect white men. In fact, the incidence rate of bladder cancer is four times higher among men than among women. It is also twice as high in white males as among Black, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander men.

The NCI explains that there are three major types of bladder cancer. The name of each type of cancer indicates the kind of cells that become malignant.

  • Transitional cell carcinoma begins in cells in the innermost tissue layer of the bladder.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the squamous cells. This type may form after long-term infection or irritation.
  • Adenocarcinoma begins in glandular (secretory) cells in the lining of the bladder.

Cancer in the lining of the bladder is called superficial bladder cancer. Cancer that has spread through the lining of the bladder and has invaded the muscle wall of the organ, or has spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes, is called invasive bladder cancer.

Risk factors for bladder cancer include tobacco use, having a family history of the disease, and exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace. Other risk factors include drinking well water with high levels of arsenic and having a history of bladder infections, according to the NCI.

Approximately 78 percent of people diagnosed with bladder cancer survived five years or more after diagnosis between 2012 and 2019, according to federal estimates.

One Patient’s Story

When Lesa Kirkman’s bladder cancer eventually failed to respond to the treatment, she turned to a clinical trial of a new gene therapy. She was able to stop the treatment after three years and has had no recurrences. Read her story in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2023.

what the aacr is doing in bladder cancer research

The AACR is holding a “Special Conference on Bladder Cancer: Transforming the Field,” May 17-20, 2024, in Charlotte, North Carolina. This meeting will bring together the world’s leading experts to address core biological principles, disease models, and clinical aspects of bladder cancer, among other topics.

What’s New in Bladder Cancer Treatment

If cancer invades the muscles of the bladder, doctors will usually treat it with chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, followed by surgery to remove the bladder. However, a recent clinical trial found that adding immunotherapy to chemotherapy may allow certain patients to avoid surgery. Read more in AACR’s magazine Cancer Today:

Non-surgical Options in Bladder Cancer | Cancer Today (

for more information

See our page on bladder cancer. This includes information on the different types of bladder cancer and on screening and treatment.